LONDON (Reuters) - Canadian show jumper Tiffany Foster was disqualified before the first round of the Olympic team jumping final on Sunday because of inflammation in one of the forelegs of her horse Victor, leaving Canada with a team of three.
Foster, who is making her Olympic debut, was in tears as team captain Eric Lamaze and Chef d'equipe Terrence Millar escorted her back to the international team tent.
"The Veterinary Commission have stated that the horse has an area of inflammation and sensitivity on the left forelimb just above the hoof. There is no accusation of malpractice, but the horse has been deemed unfit to compete by the Ground Jury," said the governing body of equestrian sport in a statement.
The Canadians have filed an appeal but the FEI said there is no possibility of appeal on rulings about hypersensitivity.
"Our team, all the riders, are devastated by this situation. We feel it's just not right and it's an incorrect application of the rules but there's going to be a process and we'll see what happens," said Ian Millar, who is making a record 10th Olympic appearance.
"She's devastated. Her family is here from British Columbia, her owners are here. Everybody's here."
The Canadian team will now have only three members in contention in the team final, which means all scores count. Other four-member teams are permitted to drop their weakest score.
Canada's Mac Cone was knocked out in 2008 when his horse was injured, leaving the team in the same position, but they managed to take a silver medal.
"I am sick about it. Having said that, we did it before in Beijing and we got it done, but it's doing it the hard way for sure," said Millar.
According to the Canadians, the horse had a slight scratch above its hoof and that is what led to the ruling.
Foster had a long road to these Olympics. She broke her back when schooling a horse just before Beijing and spent six months completely unable to ride.
"If you read the rule, the way the rule is written, you could build a case for their interpretation of it, but it is not an equitable interpretation," said Millar.
"To me the athlete should always get the benefit of the doubt and the athlete got the opposite of that here."
It has been a tough Olympics for the Canadian equestrian team with the nation knocked out by errors before the team finals of both eventing and dressage.
(Reporting by Sarah Edmonds, editing by Mark Meadows)